Meet Cesca: An Icon At 90

If there’s one creative adage that holds particularly true, it’s that the best ideas strike when you least expect them. For legendary architect, Marcel Breuer, they tended to bubble up when he was riding his Adler bicycle through the streets of Dessau. It’s a rather bucolic image of the man who would go on to become the Father of Modernism, we’ll admit. But in this tale, the bike matters. In fact, it’s kind of where it all begins. 

 As one of the protagonists of the Bauhaus School of the Arts, BREUER believed that good design, the kind that endures, was free from frills or pretension. Indeed, if a chair were to truly transcend the fickle concepts of time and trends, then it should strive to say a lot with a little. 

 

And so it was that Breuer found inspiration in the tubular steel frame of his beloved bicycle. The perfect example of form follows function. And the baseline for every Cesca chair since. 

Photography by Anson Smart

Its steel curves cut through open space like a cool breeze. Drawing out a new language of modernity and brave new possibilities for seating. Cesca also debuted the world’s first look at the cantilever. A lovely bit of design wizardry that delivered both drama and ergonomics.

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“I considered such polished and curved lines not only symbolic of our modern technology, but actually technology itself.” — Marcel Breuer

Today, some of these innovations may seem logical. And yet every stage of its creation required Breuer to think outside of the box that kept other designers stuck on prissy parlour chairs.

 

There was the unusual decision to pit cane with steel. Followed by the fact of the frame itself, which had to be artfully manoeuvred from a rigid tube into a smooth continuous curve. Breuer then completed the magic by ensuring that every Cesca chair could be easily dismantled using the same tools that he carried with him to mend his bike.

Photography by Shannon McGrath

Photography by Anson Smart

In the hands of another artisan, it would have seemed too daring. Outlandish even. And yet, the results of such an oxymoronic process can be seen in its versatility today. A chair that is both luxurious yet industrial, hardworking yet comfortable, classic and contemporary.

Knoll Cesca Chairs and Platner Lounge Chair

Photography by Erik Petschek

It’s why whenever a client is on the hunt for a truly modern design, we always find ourselves in conversation about Cesca. A style that can be warm in rattan, sculptural in steel and serenely comfortable no matter the setting.

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